Local Artist: Aya Safiya

in Q&As by

How did you come up with the name of the band?
Aya Safiya is my stage name. Aya is my given first name, and I chose Safiya as the second part of my stage name because it’s the perfect middle ground between my two middle names. Sonically it sounds like the Arabic version of Sofia, the middle name my father gave me, and it means “clear” like Claire, the middle name my mother gave me.

How would you describe your sound?
Ethereal, Nostalgic, Romantic indie-pop.

When did you first become interested in playing music?
I probably first became interested when I was an infant falling asleep to my father’s violin playing, or maybe even in my mother’s tummy floating right next to her accordion and santouri, both instruments that resonate around the tummy.

What are you listening to these days?
I’m listening to SO much Lana Del Rey. I also made enneagram themed Spotify playlists and I love them <3

What does music mean to you?
Growing up, music was a way of being heard and seen — of being not invisible. As I grew older I finally learned how to express myself with words like a normal person, so the function of music in my life slightly evolved. But still, music is my favorite way to express my thoughts, feelings, and visions. Music is a space that has no rules, and where I feel most free to be myself.

San Francisco is full of music history. Who are some San Francisco musicians who inspired you?
One of the most inspirational people in music for me is my partner and producer Tano Brock. He has been playing a million instruments and producing his own music since day one. Seeing him accomplish everything I had ever wanted made me realize my dreams weren’t impossible.

What’s the biggest challenge in becoming a musician today?
I think a big challenge in becoming an artist/musician today is the expectation the world has of you. There’s so much emphasis on being authentic, which of course is any artist’s aim, but no matter how true to yourself you are, if you don’t fit other people’s guidelines of authenticity it doesn’t count in their eyes. There are boxes you need to mold yourself into, and if you can’t contain yourself into one box then you’re inauthentic.

What are some of your favorite Bay Area music venues?
Freight & Salvage is an all-time favorite. I used to work the concessions there and I love the space, stage, sound, staff, everything… It’s a goal of mine to headline there one day! Red Poppy Art House and The Ivy Room are close to my heart as well. Ashkenaz is another venue I used to work at and grew up going to, and the staff there is like my family.

What’s one thing that people would be surprised to find out about you?
Growing up, most people knew me as a visual artist…they had no idea I was a musician.

Is there anything you’d like to plug?
My new song “Puzzle Pieces” just released on Friday, June 11th! It’s the first single towards my debut LP, produced by SF-native Tano Brock, and the cover art is designed by Marin-native Relic Lagoon. The song is about my biggest fear.

An avid drummer whose discography includes albums on Digital Nations (a Steve Vai imprint), music critic Louis Raphael has always kept a pulse on the San Francisco music scene. After many years as the San Francisco Music Examiner for Examiner.com and AXS.com, he decided to start Music in SF® as a way to showcase what the San Francisco music scene really has to offer.

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